I am a retired publishing professional with decades of experience in tutoring the English language. After retiring from publishing, I got my
teaching certification, provided homework help to students with learning disabilities, and taught General Science at the Middle School
level. I am also experienced in teaching English as a Second Language. I have worked with students in a Red Cross "survival skills" ESL
program and I have worked with middle-school, high-school, and college students who needed help with English, Reading Comprehension,
Writing, and ESL skills.
I see myself as a "professional explainer." My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Arts from Goddard College with a concentration
in biology. I also hold a Master of Science from Boston University in Communications with a concentration in science and technology. In
this degree program, students learn how to make complex material accessible to non-expert audiences. As a result of this training and my
years working with non-fiction writers, I bring a wealth of experience in finding many ways to help students understand complex concepts.
I also like to call myself an academic coach. A coach helps students understand the material in front of them. A coach also pays close
attention to building a student's academic "muscles." My goal is always to equip the student with the intellectual and analytical tools
that will enable them to succeed not just in school but in all their endeavors. My reward comes from watching the student grow and
become an independent thinker.
My joy in tutoring comes from seeing a student "get it" for the first time and in seeing the student's confidence grow as we work together.
Goddard College - Bachelors, Biology
Boston University - Masters, Communications
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that a great teacher works like a great coach, not only teaching students the skills and knowledge to play the game, but also making sure they develop their intellectual, analytical, and critical thinking skills, just like a sports coach would help students develop their physical conditioning.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I like to proceed directly to talking about what is frustrating and what you feel is giving you trouble. I take a look at school materials and get the student's opinion of how well they are serving. Finally, I spend time on school work or an immediate project to get a sense of how the student likes to work, and where the student is presently in relation to where we want them to be.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
The best motivator is curiosity--the desire to know--and piquing a student's curiosity is the first goal. When working with subjects the student finds dull, humanizing or personalizing the topic can help, but when all else fails, I try to remind students why we're here: "eyes on the prize."
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Shift gears. There are many ways to do this. Stop for a 2 minute breather; let the student catch their breath and forget the whole thing for a moment. Come back at it from a completely different angle, look for approaches that use skills the student enjoys using. Sing it, dance it, draw it, or find some other way to re-energize the session.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
In addition to building vocabulary and an understanding of how structure relates to meaning, we want to get the student reading closely and analyzing what they read. With both kinds of support, a reader will gain the confidence to question what they read, rather than struggling with the feeling they just don't "get it."
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Number One: get to know who the student is. Number Two: establish trust as a sort of "academic buddy" - someone who is here to help. Number Three: Be yourself. Allow the student to establish a connection with a real person whom they feel they can trust to be there when they need help.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Curiosity. Challenge. Reward. But most of all, we want to start to build confidence by making some immediate progress that the student can see and feel and show others.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
There are many methods for many situations. Sometimes a pop quiz or some memory work can reveal a lot; sometimes moving ahead a bit with material can reveal gaps. My personal favorite is to ask the student to explain something based on their understanding of a topic to me or someone else.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Mostly by creating opportunities for success and acknowledging each and every step on the way. Challenge the student, but always be ready to help with the thought process required in a particular subject area. Teach the student how to approach the material in digestible bits.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Ask them where they feel most frustrated. Do some informal and formal assessment. Talk with the student and parents about goals, short- and long-term.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Tutoring is an art. The art lies in connecting with each student and discovering how that student already learns. That determines my approach to any particular student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I will use anything that supports a student's learning style. The tutor should be ready to work with whatever kinds of materials work best with that individual student.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
When you ignite a child's curiosity, you create what educator's like to call a "lifelong learner." Adding to curiosity the ability to analyze subject matter and develop one's own opinion gives a student the desire and the tools to learn what they do not know about whatever subject may interest them. When a student is confident in their toolkit, they can tackle whatever is required of them.